Mediterranean: gray whale lost for the first time

Wandering far from the Pacific Ocean, a gray whale has been spotted for the first time in recent days along the shores of the French Mediterranean, we learned on May 2, 2021 from the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

A stray whale

It is a calf, fifteen months old and 8 meters in size, which has already been spotted in Morocco in early March and in Italy in recent weeks, in Naples, then Rome and Genoa. Apparently, he got lost in the Mediterranean Sea, the sea from which he is trying to get out to regain his natural habitat located in the North Pacific. “The specimen has already been spotted in 2010 in the Mediterranean, twice, but in Israel and Spain this is the first for our French coasts“, said Adrien Gannier, a veterinarian and member of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network, who himself observed this young whale on April 30 near Bormes-les-Mimosas (Var).

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Pretty healthy, but skinny

The presence of this species of whale in such waters is quite unusual because the vast majority of its population lives between Baja California in winter and Alaska in summer. “It is possible that this California-born whale got lost in the Beaufort Sea during its first feeding season and that, instead of returning to the Pacific Ocean, it crossed the Atlantic before finding itself trapped in the Mediterranean.“, explains Adrien Gannier, who is also part of the Cetacean Research Group (Greek), an association based in Antibes. First observed in Antibes, then in Mandelieu-La Napoule on April 29, in the Maritime Alps, and then seen in the port of Bormes- les-Mimosas the next day, from where the port authorities managed to send her back to the open sea. “We then followed her on a journey west and left one nautical mile from Cape Bénat.“says Adrien Gannier, who hopes the calf will continue its journey to the Lion’s Bay, then the Spanish shores before exiting the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, and then ascending the Atlantic.”She seems to be in pretty good health, but skinny because her way of eating is not suitable for the Mediterranean.This animal feeds on invertebrates in muddy sand, which is rare in the region.

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